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September 23, 1988

I was very pleased to read your editorial on Guatemala, my homeland, because it seems to me that major newspapers in the United States have for so long ignored or failed to address the current situation there ("Safety Net for Guatemala" Aug. 30).

Guatemala's presidential election was the result of a carefully calculated maneuver by the military, the real power in Guatemala, to allow a Christian Democrat, Vinicio Cerezo Arevalo, to take office. It was in no way a gift to the people from the armed forces, but rather a last step in the consolidation of the political phase of the military's long-term counterinsurgency strategy aimed at preventing the transformation of the growing internal discontent of the population into a generalized civil war.

The widespread international belief that a democratic regime is governing Guatemala has allowed Cerezo to accomplish one of the military's main goals: the resumption of U.S. aid to the military and economic aid to the government.

If Guatemala's president only dreams of handing over his office to another civilian while allowing the continuation of human rights abuses and military control of the country, one can only conclude that his dreams are not worthy of what the Guatemalan people need in a president.

Cerezo is in no way an innocent victim of the right-wing forces in Guatemala that are trying to overthrow him for seeking to impose a tax law in the country, a law conceived by the military. His presidency is just another military regime with a civilian face in Latin America.

There is no "safety net" of U.S. aid to the military and its civilian facade that can save Guatemala's government. Just look at the results of that kind of policy in another country in the area: El Salvador.



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